Monday, September 22, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Shouldn’t the city be fixing deteriorating sidewalks?

By
From page HSR2 | May 24, 2014 |

Q:  We own, and live in, a house near downtown Fairfield. The sidewalk right in front of the house is in really bad shape and getting worse. It’s been deteriorating for several years now. The problem started with a series of cracks that we didn’t worry about. But over the past year or so, these cracks have gotten bigger and bigger as some tree roots have kept putting pressure underneath. This morning one of the neighbors tripped on the crack and chipped his tooth.  There are actually chunks of concrete that you can lift right out. Not only is this bad for the appearance of our house but I can only imagine the liability issues. Isn’t the city supposed to maintain the sidewalks? What should we do?

A:  Yes, you are correct that the city is responsible for the sidewalk. You may remember a number of years ago the city manager recommended to the city council that they pass an ordinance making Fairfield homeowners responsible for the sidewalks that border their property.

The outcry from the public was deafening. The council quickly pulled back from the idea and the sidewalks have been firmly in the city’s sphere of responsibility ever since.

Municipalities are very concerned about problems like these because they expose the city to liability for injuries, such as those to your neighbor.

As you can imagine, the city needs to hear from people about problems with sidewalks since there’s no way a relatively small number of people at public works can possibly patrol all of the sidewalks in town. So you need to start by notifying the city’s Public Works Department of the problem.

Make sure to document when you notified the city and who you spoke to. You may want to follow up your conversation with a letter.

Under California law, once the city has received notification of the problem they must act within a reasonable time in order to minimize their liability should someone else get hurt.

Generally, the city’s liability to injured pedestrians only begins once the city knows, or should reasonably have known, of the problem. Consequently, I can almost guarantee that the city will repair the problem within the next several months.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that as long as they make the sidewalk safe there is no legal requirement that it looks good. One of the first, and cheapest, actions the city can take is to send a workman out with a grinder and simply grind down the part of the crack that is a tripping hazard.  You’ve probably seen the results of this type of repair around town.

If the crack is big enough and the city is in a hurry to fill it in they will sometimes dump a black asphalt material into the crack.

In other words, just because the city will take care of the problem doesn’t mean they will replace the sidewalk.

Like I said, you need to start by notifying the city of the problem. If the city doesn’t repair the problem with due consideration to the appearance it may take the efforts of you and your neighbors to petition the city to replace the concrete.

But given current budget constraints, it could take a while.

In this type of situation the squeaky wheel really does get the grease.

Tim Jones is a real estate attorney in Fairfield. If you have any real estate questions you would like to have answered in this column you can contact him at SolanoScene@TJones-Law.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 7 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • HuckleberryMay 24, 2014 - 3:39 am

    Interesting. The City of Fairfield decided that they would not replace fencing that use to be their domain for streets backing up to houses. What has happened due to many houses being rental is that dogs have started excaping. A catch 22 since renters are not going to replace fencing. The result is dogs being picked up by animal control and being charged $50 per day to house them not to mention not notifying dogs that are chipped. My friend paid a $600 for a man who had 2 chi in the dog shelter who would probably be euthaized. Was she ever paid back due to the irresponsible owner. Not on your life. So when everyone talks about how great Fairfield is doing, really not so. Many of these dogs are killed due to lousy owners and Fairfield not doing as well as they would like you to believe.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • sidewalks vs fencesMay 24, 2014 - 5:01 pm

    Huckleberry- this story is about sidewalks, every time you comment on an article you comment on a completely different topic. The way this works is we read the story and make comments related to said story. Maybe take some time to review some other comments and see if you can catch the way the process works.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodMay 24, 2014 - 1:51 pm

    I beg to differ with you, Tim. It's my recollection that the City has never owned or been responsible for sidewalks. They have maintained them when a City street tree causes damage or as part of a public works street or utility project that necessitates the sidewalk be replaced. Other than that, they have done work they are not REQUIRED to do, but do because property owners won't do it, there is a safety hazard, and the City didn't want to deal with the outrage you mentioned. If a property owner wants to replace HIS sidewalk, he does need to pull a City permit just like with a house remodel or other major work. The City will make sure the work is up to City standards. But that doesn't make the sidewalk the City's. Nor does it make the liability the City's for a trip and fall.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mayor SanchezMay 24, 2014 - 3:06 pm

    Tim is right. I recall a former city manager of Suisun City suggesting that the city make the sidewalks in front of homes be the responsibility of homeowners. Then-mayor Spering and I, vice-mayor at that time disagreed and did not even agendize if for council discussion. Recently I brought up the matter of bulging sidewalks at Lawler Ranch to city staff who told me we are liable for tripping injuries only if residents can prove the city knew of the hazard. So, what I did is e-mail the bad sidewalk condition to city manager telling her"now you are aware. Fix the sidewalks now". Sure enough the sidewalks are now fixed. : )

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • RobMay 24, 2014 - 10:06 pm

    Below is the language from the California Streets and Highways code. The fronting property owner is responsible for the sidewalk unless the City Council passes an ordinance or resolution to accept the responsibility. Please correct me if I am wrong. 5610. The owners of lots or portions of lots fronting on any portion of a public street or place when that street or place is improved or if and when the area between the property line of the adjacent property and the street line is maintained as a park or parking strip, shall maintain any sidewalk in such condition that the sidewalk will not endanger persons or property and maintain it in a condition which will not interfere with the public convenience in the use of those works or areas save and except as to those conditions created or maintained in, upon, along, or in connection with such sidewalk by any person other than the owner, under and by virtue of any permit or right granted to him by law or by the city authorities in charge thereof, and such persons shall be under a like duty in relation thereto.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodMay 24, 2014 - 10:14 pm

    Rob: Thanks. So the question is whether the City has passed such a resolution or ordinance. That I don't know, but I would surprise if the City would do such a thing in difficult financial times, like we've seemed to have forever.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagMay 24, 2014 - 10:13 pm

    First find out who is responsible if it is the city go out at night with a crowbar and flip it over and half on its edge so bad that they will come sooner, but first find out, I called for repair at our business in San Francisco and found out that the business owner has to fix it and now I opened the case we had 30 days to do it also once they were on site they notice three trees were broke or missing so we had to replace those too (backfired)

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Vaca Christian hits FM airwaves

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
Hazmat crew responds to Fairfield after spill Sunday

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

SBDC schedules free workshop for small businesses

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Cordelia Rotary to host Senior Center fall dinner

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

CHP offers teen drivers class

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Golf tourney to help uninsured children

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Dixon Scottish Games return to Solano

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Hospital launches farmers market in Vacaville

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Local governments schedule meetings

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Master Gardeners schedule annual plant exchange

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Il Fiorello Olive Oil Co. hold butchery class

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
American music makes a sweet sound Sunday

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4

Popeye’s seeks Fairfield site

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B8, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
North Bay Pediatrics celebrates anniversary

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B8

Sutter Solano has new leader

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B8

 
‘Peter Pan’ earns Elly awards for Missouri Street Theatre

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A11

.

US / World

Some California wells run dry amid drought

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
More drought forecast next year across West

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

32 structures destroyed in California wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Melted glacier sends miles of mud down Mt. Shasta

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Crews cleaning fuel spill in San Francisco Bay

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Police say rifle carried by ambush suspect found

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Gov. Brown signs clean-air vehicle legislation

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Feds censure local police, yet give lethal weapons

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Del. authorities: Bus overturns, at least 1 dead

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Sierra Leone concludes nationwide Ebola lockdown

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

2016 may loom, but Jeb Bush is focused on business

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
China, US, India push world carbon emissions up

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

New Afghan president, but vote totals kept secret

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
NASA’s Maven explorer arrives at Mars after year

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

North Korea powerful temptation for some Americans

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Craig Ferguson plays it loose with new game show

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

‘Maze Runner’ races past ‘Tombstones’ with $32.5M

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
.

Opinion

Burning issue of the day? Statehood for D.C.

By Ann McFeatters | From Page: A8

 
Pulse poll: Will the drought end this year?

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
Idealists made mess of 20th century

By Jack Batson | From Page: A8

Thanks go out to Telstar Instruments

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
.

Living

Today in History: Sept. 22, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Sept. 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Ned’s drinking is ruining our parents’ business, health

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes: Sept. 22, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

Horoscopes: Sept. 23, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

 
TVGrid Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

.

Sports

 
Giants swept by Padres; fall 4 ½ behind Dodgers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Stanton leads Cardinals past 49ers 23-14

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Donaldson’s walk-off HR powers A’s past Phillies

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Penalty nixes Raiders rally, Patriots win 16-9

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Seahawks hold off Broncos 26-20 in overtime

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

NFL roundup: Cowboys erase 21-point deficit, beat Rams 34-31

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Armijo boys run to 2nd-place finish in Irvine

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Hamilton wins in Singapore, takes F1 title lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Ex-Titans kicker Bironas killed in car crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Hur pulls away for LPGA Tour win in Alabama

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

 
Logano wins at New Hampshire in 2nd Chase race

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10 | Gallery

.

Business

 
Native Americans getting final settlement payments

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

5 ways to protect yourself from data breaches

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Dilbert Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
B.C. Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Garfield Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Wizard of Id Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Blondie Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sudoku Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Crossword Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Bridge Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Word Sleuth Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Cryptoquote Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Baby Blues Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Blondie Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Beetle Bailey Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Peanuts Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Zits Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Frank and Ernest Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Pickles Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

For Better or Worse Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Rose is Rose Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sally Forth Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Garfield Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Get Fuzzy Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baldo Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

B.C. Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Dilbert Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Wizard of Id Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Word Sleuth Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Crossword Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Bridge Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Cryptoquote Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Sudoku Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7